The Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead

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February 2017

It neednít be all hearts and flowers on Valentineís Day

Valentines’ Day reminds us of the importance of expressing our love to those close to us. But how can we go beyond simply flowers and a card? Jesus says: ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another’ (John 13:34). How can we express love in our everyday relationships like Jesus?

We need to listen to others, just as Jesus did. He asked questions of people and waited for them to process their answer. How well do we listen to others? When with somebody, do we find ourselves already thinking of what we want to say before they’ve finished speaking. Listening takes time; you can’t rush it!

Jesus reached out to touch the untouchables in his world, including lepers, the sick and children. One survey has suggested that we all need at least 8-10 meaningful touches a day to maintain emotional health! A warm handshake, touch on the arm or hug can be of real value. Of course, it should be appropriate touch – helpful for the other person not just for ourselves.

Jesus’ conversation was always full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Do we speak words of grace, by offering comfort, giving encouragement or expressing care and concern? However, we should also be ready to speak words of truth, in asking for forgiveness, seeking reconciliation or addressing conflict.

Where is the challenge for us in expressing love this Valentine’s Day?

The key to a happy life

Your mental health is the biggest single predictor of your personal happiness. So suffering from depression or anxiety disorders can devastate your life.

Finding love is also a vital ingredient for happiness. “People need to be needed, and to be in meaningful relationships”, says a recent study by the London School of Economics. It goes on: “Happiness is hugely affected by the ethos of a society, which affects everyone in it. For example, happiness is higher in societies where people trust each other. Freedom is also a crucial determinant of happiness.”

The report also found that a boost in income, or more education, did not significantly affect our overall well-being. Having good mental health and someone to love were far more important.

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